Repsol Honda Team rider Marc Márquez sets new record for youngest pole position in MotoGP
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// Free Practice Three
The MotoGP grid returned to the track for a third practice session this morning with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa shaving over a second from his previous practice time (2'05.585) and setting the pace for the session (2'04.408). Following behind were Marquez (2'04.795), Lorenzo (2'05.295) and Crutchlow. (2'05.630) The riders will continue their preparations for the qualifying session later this afternoon.
Pedrosa’s teammate Marc Marquez took second position in the practice session following a crash on the entrance to Turn 19 early in the session. The MotoGP rookie for the Repsol Honda team lost the rear end of his bike while beginning the lead into to the penultimate corner, causing him to tumble over the top of his bike, land on his side and slide across the run-off into the gravel. Marquez recovered quickly and returned to the track, holding the top time for the session until the final few minutes when he was eclipsed by his teammate.
Marquez’s spill echoes what many Formula 1 drivers experienced in November: the off-camber geometry of Turn 19 creates difficulty in setting up for the turn-in. Like the first practice sessions of F1 at COTA, many riders in MotoGP are struggling to maintain balance after exiting the wide sweeping right turns of 16-18 and properly setup Turn 19, causing many to overshoot and be forced to sacrifice grip or their line into Turn 20. A deceptively simple turn, this will cause problems for many riders, so keep an eye on how they continue to develop their skills in the last sector of the track; it could make the difference in tomorrow’s race.
// Official Standings
Here’s the full line-up following FP3 this morning (Lukas Pesek and Mike Barnes fell outside of 107%):
- Dani Pedrosa
- Marc Marquez
- Jorge Lorenzo
- Cal Crutchlow
- Stefan Bradl
- Andrea Dovizioso
- Valentino Rossi
- Alvaro Bautista
- Nicky Hayden
- Ben Spies
- Aleix Espargaro
- Bradley Smith
- Andrea Iannone
- Randy de Puniet
- Yonny Hernandez
- Karel Abraham
- Danilo Petrucci
- Hector Barbera
- Claudio Corti
- Hiroshi Aoyama
- Colin Edwards
- Michael Laverty
- Bryan Staring
- Blake Young
Tthe MotoGP weekend at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas kicked off on Thursday with a somewhat eventful day including a fire in the paddock, a pre-event press conference and a track ride with a few riders and a handful of lucky media in sporty BMW X-5s.
// Garage Fire
Early Friday morning a small fire broke out inside the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage, which houses riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith's bikes, gear and tons of team equipment. The fire was ignited by one of the electric starters used to start the Team’s Yamaha YZR-M1 but quickly extinguished by COTA's sprinkler system. The fire itself was small and contained, but the water from the sprinklers affected neighboring teams. Yamaha Motor Racing’s Managing Director Lin Jarvis commented in the press conference:
When we arrived here today we heard there had been a fire incident, and that the Yamaha garages, Abraham’s team, and LCR were under water. But if we hadn’t been here at this excellent facility [with fire protection], we could have lost six bikes! There was no damage to any people or the bikes, but computers, servers and spare parts have been flooded. We can race this weekend, but have to take everything to pieces and dry each part, to ensure we have no corrosion issues in the future. But it’s always tougher with electronic parts, as issues are not visible.
Kudos to COTA and the local Austin Fire Departments for responding quickly and ensuring this fire didn't do more damage then it did.
// Press Conference
In attendance at the Pre-Event Press Conference on Thursday were (pictured above) COTA President Steve Sexton, Ignite Pramac Racing's Ben Spies, Repsol Honda Team's Marc Márquez, Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha Motor Racing's Managing Director, Lin Jarvis.
Overall the riders shared the general sentiment that they are looking forward to racing on the new circuit. Two of the five riders that tested on it last month, Márquez and Lorenzo, had split feelings that they had an advantage but that their peers would quickly adapt. Lorenzo thought that three or four testings would be enough for other riders to understand the track but that a crucial aspect of it, Turn 1, is difficult because of its elevation change. He said it is "one of the biggest corners I've ever seen." Márquez said Friday will be for learning; the first day "most of the riders will struggle a little bit, but by 30 or 40 laps they will know the track."
Crutchlow and Spies had a chance to ride the circuit on street bikes before Thursday. Crutchlow said that it's difficult against the five guys that tested at COTA last month (Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez, Dani Pedrosa and Stefan Bradl) but that they'll have to be patient. He added, "there are a lot of blind corners and it will take some time to learn." Spies was asked if he feels like an unofficial Ambassador for Circuit of The Americas, since he resides less than four hours north of the circuit in Dallas, and shared his excitement for having a world class facility in Texas to call home. Spies commented:
I never would have thought that this facility would be in Texas. I'm happy to be one of two Texans here, I'm happy to help [serve as ambassador] if need be. But these world class events are great for Texas.
Ben also noted that it would not be the same to be racing in Texas without MotoGP World Champion and local Texan, Kevin Schwantz, in attendance. Due to ongoing litigation with COTA and Dorna, Kevin has confirmed he will not be in attendance at the MotoGP race this weekend.
// Track Ride
American riders Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards took to the track late Thursday afternoon to show the main tricks of the new circuit to Spanish rider Luis Salom and German riders Sandro Cortese and Jonas Folger. The small group rode scooters and were followed by media to capture the action on film. The riders stopped atop Turn 1, at the end of the esses at Turn 6, and at the COTA Tower to analyze the circuit from 251 feet above. Be sure to check out the Official MotoGP YouTube page, where the action will be shared in their post-race webisode, After The Flag.
We'll have photos from the guys hanging out on track and up in the Tower, but until then, enjoy this awesome GoPro video of Honda Repsol riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez riding COTA back in March.
This weekend, Austin will play host to the MotoGP World Championship, a two-wheeled series that brings the top technology in motorcycle racing to the heart of the Lone Star State. The race, an intense combination of speed and gravity defying track action, is the second race following the season opening event in Qatar.
MotoGP, touted as the world's oldest form of world championship racing, is considered by fans, media and riders around the world as the pinnacle of two-wheeled sports. Riders race in some of the most exotic and exclusive tracks in the world on top of the most advanced prototype racing machines in excess of 200mph.
Like Formula 1, the extreme speed and intense competition between teams and riders has created a culture of glamour and exclusivity. The 18 racing events are held in 12 countries on five continents, and carry with them global sponsorship deals as some of the most reputable brands in the motorsport world such as Bridgestone, Shell, Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha, propel riders to the coveted championship win.
For the 2013 season, there are 24 riders representing 10 countries around the world. Unlike their four-wheeled grand prix counterparts, there are three riders in MotoGP from the USA (Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards) and two of which are native Texans (Spies and Edwards). The 2012 MotoGP championship was awarded to Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, his second title, with Repsol Honda Racing Team's Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner following in second and third positions, respectively.
There are 12 teams competing in the 2013 season with a mix of chassis and engine suppliers in three informal categories, Factory, Factory-Supported and CRT. Factory teams such as Ducati, Yamaha and Honda are fully operated and supported by the manufacturer. Factory supported teams and CRT teams however can differ in their level of support from the manufacturer, with CRT teams such as Pramac and LCR Honda being operated completely privately with leased bikes from the manufacturer.
This weekend's Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas is the second event in the calendar for the 2013 MotoGP season and the first motorcycle race to be held at the new Austin circuit. A full schedule of this weekend's event can be downloaded here, along with a track map here and overview of this weekend's event from the MotoGP site.
Tickets are sold by Circuit of The Americas:
Fans interested in attending the MotoGP race on Sunday, April 21, may purchase general admission tickets for the price of $59 per person. Children ages 12 and under receive free general admission tickets when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Sunday-only general admission tickets can be purchased on race day, April 21, at the Circuit’s Grand Plaza ticket office. Three-day general admission tickets are still available for $89 per person. College students and military personnel can purchase three-day general admission tickets for $49 per person with a valid student or military ID. Three-day reserved seats start at $133 per person.
To get you pumped up, here's a Red Bull promo video showcasing the arrival of MotoGP to Austin:
On Wednesday, Yamaha Factory Racing completed their second day of pre-season testing at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. The team consists of 2012 MotoGP World Champion Rider Jorge Lorenzo and six-time World Champion Rider Valentino Rossi (aka "The Doctor).
The testing days proved to be quite helpful as the riders got used to the "long and technical" track on their Yamaha YZR-M1s. In a recap, Yamaha said their riders were able to shave "several seconds off their first times but were still looking for more grip at full lean." This is evident as Lorenzo's best time on Tuesday was 2:05.291 and 2:04.664 on Wednesday; Rossi's best was 2:06.507 on Tuesday and 2:05.518 the second day of testing.
Lorenzo shared: “I feel better today, especially in the last run before the lunch break, we changed the set up of the bike and we improved some tenths so we are closer to the fastest riders, but not as much as we would like. We were too soft in the suspension to start with, we made it harder and in this track it works.
These two days that we are here I think is enough to get a good idea of set up and riding style. The fans will like MotoGP here, it is going to be a great show.
We have been trying different set ups of the bike, no new parts, just playing with the set up, changing the suspension and forks and in the last run I improved half a second with set up changes.
We still don't have enough grip on the rear so we can’t lean over with confidence which is why we are further behind than in Sepang.
I am adapting my riding style every lap a little for the track. In the main straight we are at 340kmh/h which is an amazing speed; when you have to brake and put your helmet up the wind is very strong so it’s difficult to be stable.”
Valentino was also positive: “The feeling with the track improved today, we started to work on the bike to improve the difficult points, especially in the three very hard braking areas where it is important to have good stability. It’s also very important to have grip on the edge through the hairpin to have speed along the straight.
It looks like you can make a big difference in the slow parts here. The chicane part in turn two is very technical and difficult as it is blind; you have to go a bit with memory.
Step by step we improved a lot from yesterday but have some disadvantage compared to the other guys so we need to put all the sections together.
The target was to come here and try to understand the track and try to be ready for the race.
Our competitors are able to accelerate faster than us from the hairpin and they have a bit more grip on the edge compared to us so these are the areas where we have to work, in the flowing parts we are not so bad.
The track is good, a very classical ‘Tilke’ track, I like the fast parts, turn two and turn ten especially. There is lots of hard braking and it is very wide so good for overtaking. The long right before the last two lefts is also good. It's fun and not too hot like it is in Sepang so it's a good place to make a motorcycle race.”
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